The first week of Lent is over, which means we can more or less resume our normal lives. In many ways, that only makes things more difficult, because the split between our life in the world and our life hidden in Christ becomes so striking. Despite all it requires of us – rescheduling our meetings, rearranging our jobs around the church services, working at strange hours to free the time for church – it somehow feels easier when our hidden life reveals itself and takes over our daily life.
At least, it seems easier to me. I prefer open spiritual war to a state of apparent balance; I prefer to know what I’m up against, rather than have my eyes covered. Apparent peace is more dangerous than spiritual war, because it can gradually blind one. Without visible opposition, one loses sight of the final goal (the Resurrection!) and gets caught in the lukewarm piety and pretence of prayer of daily life. Without knowing it, the fire of the first week of Lent dies out and we gradually slip back into spiritual pretence and make believe.
One cannot pretend to be in Lent, because Lent is like Life – one either is part of it, or one isn’t; there is no middle ground. Lent begins with our fall from Paradise and it is fulfilled with our joining Christ in His Resurrection. There can be nothing ‘normal’ and relaxed about the time between these two events, there can be no place for fake piety and prayer. Do not allow the apparent peace and quiet of the following few weeks weaken you. Do not let your guard down. Remember that you are caught in that time between the Fall and the Resurrection, in that space between Hell and Heaven.
Finally – and this sounds horrid, but it is vital for this period – remember that you are at war, fighting for nothing less than your salvation in Christ; remember that a silent, hidden enemy is much more dangerous than one who fights in the open. Be watchful and be prepared. Do not lose your state of tension. You are at war; behave like a soldier.
Thank you, Father, for these words of reflection; a powerful way to perceive our Lenten struggle!
Thank you for taking the time to write this, father; please pray for me and the monastery – we are so much closer than a year ago, yet we still have so much work ahead of us before we can move on the island. Please pray that I may have the strength to keep working and that people may have the faith to keep supporting us.
Very poignant reflection on our Lenten struggle. Thank you Father. Kale Stadio.
Thank God for everything. Thank you for your kind words – please tell everyone you know about the monastery. We have two more years of fundraising ahead of us – after that, we have to start building, even if it’s just a tent! The more people support us, the sooner we can start the proper life of the monastery.
So precise. So helpful. Thank you.
Please pray for me and the monastery, dear father. I need a beam of light (and hope) this Lent – the closer we get to the moment when we must start building (only two years from now!), the more pressure I feel. I pray for you; please pray for me.
The Sunday evening group that meets in our living room prays for you by name each Sunday evening. I pray for you daily. God upholds you. God loves you ssssooooo much.
Now I understand why St Theodore is commemorated just before Lent starts…
Glory to God! You, and all those who will come to the monastery, are in my prayers, Father. Pray that I may be one of the pilgrims.
(from Protection/St Seraphim parish in Santa Rosa)
…and God calls us to stand against the enemy (seen/unseen, overt/covert) wearing His whole armor: the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Let it be so!
Thank you, these words are helpful Fr Serafim,
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